The Novel

Available on Amazon.co.uk as a paperback and eBook.

Click here for the Amazon page.


Run or Love is a romantic comedy.


'Suzanna has spent her life trying really hard to be perfect, and to stay in control of her life.

But as her marriage falls apart, she meets her match in Freddie, who is looking for help to overcome PTSD and depression.

As they both struggle to learn what they truly want from life, romance begins to blossom, but it was never going to be easy.'


Scroll down to find excerpts from Run or Love...

Reviews

"I enjoyed the book very much. Full of twists and turns. You get drawn in by each of the characters. It is a must read."

MW Kent


"I read Sarah Crockford's novel 'Run or Love' over several days in winter lockdown. Sarah has a very readable and easy style of writing which made it perfect for picking up and resuming at regular intervals although I confess I binge-read the last 25 per cent as I wanted to know what happened! Sarah skilfully and gently weaves some valid mental health issues in a sensitive way into her writing. I very much enjoyed this book and wonder if there might be room for a sequel ..."

5 star Amazon review - Gardengirl

"I thoroughly enjoyed every page of Sarah's book. I found I felt really invested in finding out what happens to Freddie and Suzanna, the sign of a really good book in my opinion. Writing about the complexities they both have, and their struggles to over come their individual difficulties is inspired. A recommended read! I also bought a copy for my sister in Australia, here's what she had to say about it - "I thoroughly enjoyed this book, what a refreshing change from all the other 'romcom' novels to have characters with real depth and issues but with a lighthearted amusing storyline! It made me think, laugh and cry. The author has a real talent and I really hope she writes more of these." "

5 star Amazon review - DM

" I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the characters in this book and the journey they go on. Sarah sets the tone for the characters of Suzannah and Freddie and they are not immediately likeable which made me want to read on and find out more about their complexities. I did want to know the name of one of the characters for quite a while, (Freddie's Nan) and my patience was rewarded.
The adventures that Suzannah and Freddie go on are really exciting and Sarah's descriptions are fantastic. I read this novel in a few days and just wanted to get back to it each time I put it down. Very much looking forward to Sarah's next instalment. Well done and thank you for a lovely story."

5 star Amazon review - lovely baubles

Run or Love - excerpt

Part 1 - Looking for Signs

Chapter 1

Suzanna leaned on the podium. Below her the hundreds of chairs would soon be filled by eager attendees, desperate to hear the one bit of advice that would save and enrich their lives. She visualised them all listening intently, and taking copious notes. Five hundred people needing her. Suzanna was wearing her ‘power suit’: trousers and matching jacket in executive grey, plain red shirt, crimson fingernails, diamanté watch and chunky necklace. Her hair, dyed a rich auburn and kept in long waves, was fixed in place with a whole can of spray. It was a calculated look that said ‘I have everything, listen to me’. She glanced at the expensive leather folder, cleared her throat, and prepared to project to the back of the empty room.


The doors at the back rattled open, and a man in jumper and fraying shorts walked in, carrying a wad of publicity information. Spotting Suzanna on the stage, he hurried down the central aisle, getting his phone ready at the same time. ‘Mind if I ask a couple of questions before your talk?’ he said.


‘I suppose,’ replied Suzanna, already losing some of her composure. She fiddled with the water jug on the podium’s shelf, attempting to fill a glass, but missed, creating a waterfall down the stand. To cover her embarrassment, she took a sip from the half-filled glass, only to tip it over her chin, the water splashing onto her shirt. She cursed under her breath. Not for the first time, Suzanna wondered why everything always seemed to go wrong for her. But not wanting the stranger to spot any signs of weakness, she locked his eyes in a winning stare. A masterclass in eye contact. She smiled broadly, repeating the action she’d practiced hundreds of times in front of the bathroom mirror.


The man took a small step backwards, and shuffled through his paperwork, leaving an awkward silence.


‘Well?’ Suzanna asked. It came out like a command.


‘Right, er, this talk is all about confidence, and you say in your book that anyone can learn it. Is that really true?’ He held the phone towards her.


That question put her in a dilemma. Although she was practicing in the main room, imagining what it would be like to have a global following (it was only a matter of time she told herself), she wasn’t actually the keynote speaker. But he hadn’t addressed her by name, and had merely asked for her opinion as an expert. She’d written part of a book yet to be published, and thought that might count. The chance to be interviewed and taken seriously was irresistible.


‘Yes,’ Suzanna forged ahead, wiping her wet shirt with a tissue, ‘confidence is a skill anyone can learn.’


‘What are your top tips?’


This was her moment. The chance to prove she knew her stuff, to silence her doubters. ‘The first…is to decide what you want to achieve.’ Bits of tissue started to flake off on her shirt, leaving behind little spots of white. ‘Then you need to keep thinking positive until you get it.’ She tried to brush off the tissue with her hand. ‘Always remembering to…’


The doors at the back rattled again. Annoyed at another intrusion, Suzanna yelled ‘it’s not started yet,’ in her most confident voice, congratulating herself at how forceful she sounded. Then she swore. The lady walking towards the stage was Gina Mathews, world renowned therapist, public speaker, and author of ‘Change Your Brain - Ditch Your Pain’.

(c) Crockford 2021

***


Find out more about Suzanna, and her rival Gina, in the rest of chapter 1, which also introduces Rupert, Suzanna's husband. Chapter 2 is the beginning of Freddie's story. Read more now in the 'Look Inside' function on the Run or Love Amazon page (click the link above).

Run or Love - excerpt

Part 3 - Stepping into Trouble

Chapters 21 and 22

This is a little YouTube video of me reading a section of Run or Love (from chapters 21 and 22).

I'm often asked how I combine writing and my work as a pet behaviourist...and this is one way: animals always find their way into my writing. In this case, it's horses.

Freddie and Suzanna have very different reactions to their new challenge...

Run or Love - Q and A

Why did you write Run or Love?

I'd seen a competition for the opening chapter of a novel, without needing to have the whole book written. I thought that would be a good place to start, as up to then I'd been learning a lot about 'how to' write, without doing a lot about it! It was a great challenge, and although I didn't get on the shortlist, I loved the ideas I'd come up with, and continued to write. That was back in 2016.

Did you find it an easy process?

I found the length of time to write it, and the editing, difficult at times. It seemed to take forever, and trying to hold the whole thing in my mind at once...I much prefer writing shorter pieces. That's why Run or Love is broken into five parts. But I'm really glad I got to the end. I wouldn't have been able to write it, or have the motivation for finishing, if it hadn't been for Charlie Bell's writing group. We were all working on novels, and we helped each other to keep going! But being able to write about things that are very personal to me has been a healing experience, and has made me realise how powerful 'writing therapy' can be.

How did you create the characters of Suzanna and Freddie?

They are really parts of me. I've suffered with anxiety throughout my life, and have been through countless panic attacks, and have also found myself with mild depression a few times. I've always had a nagging thought that since I've had a great childhood, with loving family and friends, that I shouldn't have cause to feel this way. So when I created Suzanna and Freddie, I gave them very clear reasons why they have developed their anxieties and foibles. Freddie has seen some terrible things, but that isn't the only trauma he's had to deal with. And Suzanna, well, her reasons become a little clearer as the novel progresses, but she's a lot more resistant to change than Freddie, and is very good at covering up her difficulties. Mental health issues are talked about a lot more now, but people's pain is often hidden, and sometimes we forget that we're all struggling a little bit. Although this is primarily a rom-com, I didn't want to shy away from these things.

There are a lot of animals in Run or Love, was that always the plan?

It wasn't in the original plan - they found their way into the story! I feel that animals are such great teachers...and great levellers. No matter who you are, what you've been through, or what you think of yourself, a dog or horse or cat is just going to see you as you are. That's not always an easy experience to go through. I've learnt a lot about animal behaviour over the years, and spend several of those studying natural horsemanship. The boot-camp that Suzanna and Freddie go on seemed the perfect opportunity to include a bit of equine teaching. And after I'd written that scene, I realised Freddie was going to want to learn more, which is why later in the book the story moves to Texas.

Is there going to be another book featuring Suzanna and Freddie?

Possibly! But I have a few other projects to complete first, including a rom-com novella.

What is your advice to anyone wanting to write a novel?

Start one! Do a bit of planning first though, so you know you have enough story, and that you'll be happy to write about your characters for a prolonged period of time. Then just get writing, and don't stop until the end. Then you can do your editing. If you do too much editing in the early stages, you might lose your motivation to complete it. And although writing a novel can be hard work, try to enjoy it if you can!


If you have a question for Sarah about Run or Love, please email her at crockford.writing@gmail com